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Cop26 news: Boris Johnson says pact ‘sounds death knell for coal’ but admits disappointment at pledges

Reactions after climate deal agreed

Emily Atkinson,Sam Hancock
Sunday 14 November 2021 19:25 GMT

Related video: Alok Sharma holds back tears while apologising for events of Cop26

Boris Johnson has admitted his “disappointment” at the Cop26 climate pact after coal pledges were watered down.

Holding a press conference with Cop26 president Alok Sharma, he said the agreement “sounded the death knell for coal” and dismissed criticism that the shift from phasing “out” coal to phasing “down” the dirty fuel was a significant change in language.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson is facing accusations from Labour that he “undermined” his own climate conference minister by failing to back him up with ambitious UK commitments.

It comes after the government faced criticism for not bringing down a firm enough hand on India and China’s demands to make a last-minute change to the text on coal in the deal agreed in Glasgow on Saturday.


US climate envoy speaks on behalf of the US

Back to Louise Boyle, our senior climate correspondent, for an update now:

John Kerry opened by saying he was “thinking about the different lives that are out here and the extraordinary number of people that have come together here in Glasgow”.

But he noted that the work has been beyond these two weeks, and gone on for months and years.

“It is time to come together for future generations in a way that none of us thought we might have an opportunity to do,” he said. “We each have our own priorities. If it's a good negotiation, all the parties are uncomfortable. This has been, I think, a good negotiation.”

He noted that while there are things in the text of the agreement that every one country “can come up with that doesn't meet their best desire”.

Mr Kerry called it a “powerful statement” and said the US is “excited” that the agreement raises ambition, sets measurement standards and asks everyone to be part of the process, calling it “significant on mitigation and increasing adaption, resilience, and scaling up adaptation finance”.

He noted that progress had been made on Loss & Damage “tough as that's been previously”, and sought to quell doubts that the US wanted to participate constructively in the issue. He also called the commitment to doubling adaptation finance as a “real” one. He called the Glasgow pact a “remarkable step”.

He referred to the US-China climate deal from earlier this week noting that it showed, despite differences, countries could rise above on the climate crisis.

“I have been in public life a long time,” he said. “And not everyone gets to make choices about life and death, and that actually affect an entire planet. We here are privileged to do entirely that.”

Mr Kerry closed by calling on the Glasgow agreement to be adopted at Cop26: “So we can in fact guarantee to our children, grandchildren and next generations that we did our job.”

Sam Hancock13 November 2021 17:25

Watch: Banners remain outside Cop26 venue in Glasgow

Banners remain outside Cop26 venue in Glasgow
Sam Hancock13 November 2021 17:35

Vulnerable countries faced with ‘near impossible choice’ AFP environment correspondent says

Patrick Galley, AFP’s global environment and science correspondent has said that some climate-hit countries were faced with a “near impossible choice” in loss and damage deal.

“Loss and damage facility fatally undermined by US/EU refusal and the knowledge that this process isn’t equal: Some countries had to choose between cash to help their suffering now or mitigation to prevent even worse suffering to come,” he wrote on Twitter. “That’s a near impossible choice #COP26

Ella Glover13 November 2021 17:43

Final texts ‘fully consistent’ with goals of Paris Agreement and Cop26, Alok Sharma says

The final texts are “fully consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement and the ultimate objective of the convention,” Cop26 President Alok Sharma has said.

However, he warned against upsetting the current “delicate balance” and said he hoped countries could leave the conference “united…as one.”

He said: “There is a fine and fragile green thread which is weaved around this balanced package. And I do think that if any of us tug, it will unravel all too easily.”

He added: “I do think these texts are fully consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement and the ultimate objective of the convention.

“So I do hope that we can leave this conference united, having delivered something significant for our people and planet - together as one.”

Ella Glover13 November 2021 18:00

Iran unhappy with fossil fuels language

Iran has joined the list of nations unhappy with the part of the agreement that refers to a phase-out of coal and fossil fuel subsidies.

“We need to use fossil fuels for economic development. We request you modify this paragraph,” says the representative.

China, India and South Africa have also criticised this part of the text.

Ella Glover13 November 2021 18:20

India, China, US and EU hold last minute talks on phasing out of coal

Representatives from India, China, the United States and the European Union were meeting Saturday evening to discuss details of an agreed phaseout of coal as nations pushed for a deal at the UN climate conference in Scotland, according to a member of the Indian delegation.

Assuming the draft won’t change, the final wording on coal, from the published agreement reads:

“Calls upon Parties to accelerate the development, deployment and dissemination of technologies, and the adoption of policies, to transition towards low-emission energy systems, including by rapidly scaling up the deployment of clean power generation and energy efficiency measures, including accelerating efforts towards the phase-out of unabated coal power and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, recognizing the need for support towards a just transition.”

Additional reporting by PA

Ella Glover13 November 2021 18:30

China says deal has been struck at Cop26

A final climate deal has been struck at Cop26, according to China’s top climate envoy.

Speaking through a translator, Xie Zhenhua told a Reuters reporter: “We have a deal.”

He gave a thumbs up signal as he spoke, the news agency added.

Xie Zhenhua, China’s special climate envoy

Sam Hancock13 November 2021 19:22

Final plenary session begins

Alok Sharma has said it is “decision time” as the final plenary session gets underway at Cop26.

The president of the summit acknowledges that talks “have not been easy” as other countries begin having their say.

Sam Hancock13 November 2021 19:35

India proposes changing coal wording from ‘phase out’ to ‘phase down'

Over to the Indian representative now, who has proposed altered wording to the Cop26 UN climate summit in Glasgow, changing a call on parties to “phase out unabated coal power and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies” to “phase down”.

The representative for Switzerland - who also represents the Environmental Integrity Group - strongly criticises the proposed change, calling it “watered down”, but says the group would not oppose this in order to prevent leaving Glasgow without a deal.

“This will not bring us closer to 1.5C but will make it more difficult to reach it,” she says.

Sam Hancock13 November 2021 19:39

Countries condemn last-minute change to coal language

The EU has said the last-minute revision to language around coal should not stop a deal being reached at Glasgow, and insists “phasing down” will still help to lessen the harmful impact of burning coal.

Meanwhile, the representative of the Marshall Islands expresses “bitter disappointment” with the change.

Sam Hancock13 November 2021 19:44

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